Emile Hirsch on The Darkest Hour: It's 28 Days Later with Aliens

You've seen the trailer for the next alien invasion movie The Darkest Hour. Now watch star Emile Hirsch explain how he fires his giant electric alien-killing gun!


One of the coolest I saw were all the weapons that you guys built. What was it like playing with those? And what was your favorite weapon that you guys created for the movie?

Emile Hirsch: Well I had a big, massive alien gun that was like a microwave gun and it was like this big [motions with arms]. And so I would wear it and I would feel like some sort of Rambo or something. I was like: "gosh, this is fulfilling some kind of childhood fantasy." When you're a little kid, you're like "[gun noise] playing with aliens!" I mean, I literally was on set like, [makes an excellent gun noise]. Like, doing that. I was like: "This is so funny that this is what I do for a living." Yeah, you got to really get into it. Go for it, you know? You can't let that gun be your boss, you got to boss that gun around.

So why did you want to get involved in this project?

Well I grew up watching scifi. I pretty much, like big part of my childhood, lived in this video store, pretty much and I would watch all the videos in this video store. It was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. So I saw like every single genre of movie at a young age. I saw all these movies. Some kids played piano and stuff like that, I basically was between this video store and this library right next door. That was where I spent most of my time. So I saw all the badass scifi movies, so that was sort of what I was raised on. So I saw Avatar in like December, over a year ago. And they sent me this script like three weeks later to Darkest Hour and when I saw Avatar, which I loved — I really love that movie — I walked out going: "I'd love to make a 3-D scifi movie. It'd be really awesome to be in a movie like that." And so when this script came along, I was like: "this is perfect."


But why is it perfect because we've seen alien invasion films before?

I mean as far as the differentiation; it's funny because people do ask that because there's that whole like: "But there's so many of these alien movies coming out." My real response, in all honesty, is "Who gives a shit?" I love movies like this. I'd watch twenty of them if they all came out this year. To me, it's like comedies. It's like: "Yeah, there's a lot of comedies coming out this year." I'd be like: "Yea, so what?" I like to laugh. So I think that it is different, but I don't feel like I need to try and sell it as a pitch by making it seem different.


In a weird way, I think that the genre itself is strong enough, to where it's like I welcome it. I can't wait to see Cowboys & Aliens, but I also saw Battle L.A., and I also saw Skyline. That doesn't really affect my decision. And I also saw Super 8. Seen em' all, so to me it doesn't matter. But for this one, what would be different than these other ones is there's the post-invasion survival. It's a little bit more like 28 Days Later in a sense than these other kind-of scifi movies, which are more of the active invasion and the battles and things like that. In 28 Days Later, there's the big zombie takeover, but then it's like all quiet and everything's simple and abandoned. It's the story of survival and that's what Darkest Hour is essentially.

How big of a character is the Moscow setting in this film? How much do they utilize not speaking the language and not knowing your way around? Can you give me, without spoiling, an example of something that comes up?


Yeah, like for a viewer, it's like Cloverfield was set in New York, right? And because Darkest Hour is set in Moscow, to the Americans that are the leads, it's like they're in an alien land to begin with. They can't read any of the signs. They don't know where they are. The logistics and the geography of Moscow is incredibly confusing. Try driving there, not gonna happen. It's a nightmare. There's traffic, it's not cool. We try to use the landmarks to get around, but for the most part, we're just like: "where are we?" And why Russia, in a sense?

And let's talk about your character. Besides the battle, the epic battle that's going on, what else is on the table like drama-wise? What else is going on with you and the other characters?


Sean and Ben are the two best friends, and I play Sean and Max Minghella plays Ben. We try to start a software company together. It all goes south when we get to Moscow. We get dicked over by this company, and so we're basically drowning our sorrows with some beers when the invasion goes down. And Sean has always been the kind of guy who avoids responsibility and has been "water off a duck's back," and "I'm just going to make light of anything bad that happens to me and try to not take responsibility," whereas Ben is much more affected.

So when they get dicked over by the business, he's so upset and Sean's like, "We'll be okay, we'll be okay." But when the invasion happens, for the first time, Sean has to really take things seriously and take responsibility. But, at the same time, his kind-of innovative and resourceful "water off a duck's back" way of thinking helps them survive along the way because he's not as chained by "We have to do it this way and this way." He thinks outside the box a little bit more, so Ben and Sean are like a good yin-yang for a team of survivalists.


So you're like the MacGyver of the group?

Kind-of, yea. He's like always thinking and stuff like that.

Is there a lot of humor in this?

Yea, yea there is. They let me put in as much humor as I could on my front, and the dialogue they kept punching up and making it funnier and funnier. And I always wanted to not just be like a super serious guy because I think when you're watching a movie like this, sometimes you get some funny lines in there that breaks the tension, it's great. You get some jokes in there, it just makes it more interesting. It's like Indiana Jones or Han Solo: you get moments where it's levity and it just plays fantastic.


Starship Troopers: they're the bugs. There's tons of names; BSG: Toasters. Do you have nicknames for the aliens in this film?


Yea, the aliens in the film are called Spooks. We don't call them Spooks, but that's what they will be called when the movie comes out. We don't go: "There's a Spook." We don't say that. We're just like: "That thing!" But [they're] the Spooks, because they're like invisible, they're like ghosts kind-of. That was the thinking on the writers' part, on the pen to the pieces of paper.

So no alien slander though like "stupid toaster" or something like that?

No, no — there's not too much alien jargon. There's levity, but not that much levity.


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